Delhiwale: Portrait of a childhood

  • A child far from home
Noor Ahmad says he arrived in Delhi two years ago with his ‘mama’ (uncle) who lives nearby, in Darya Ganj. PREMIUM
Noor Ahmad says he arrived in Delhi two years ago with his ‘mama’ (uncle) who lives nearby, in Darya Ganj.
Updated on May 17, 2022 12:17 PM IST
Copy Link
ByMayank Austen Soofi, New Delhi

His ‘danedar shikanji’ cart is lying unattended on the Old Delhi pavement, as he sits on the narrow staircase of Al-Ahad Holiday Home, counting a wad of cash. It’s a thousand rupees. “This is not what I earned as profit… it is the worth of shikanji I sold,” he points out solemnly.

This attention to business might not be remarkable in a street hawker, but it becomes so in this case because the hawker is a teenager. Noor Ahmad is just 14. More astonishing is the fact that despite being so young, he lives far from his family. “Mummy papa are in the village in Bahraich,” he says, referring to a UP district. His two elder brothers live with his parents in the village. “They do farming with father. We have a very small land.”

And he, the youngest brother, travelled so far, to another city.

Noor Ahmad explains that “when one doesn’t have much money at home, then one has to go to distant places to earn money”. He realises that people of his age are often occupied with school, sports, and friends, but points out that “not every child can have that kind of life.”

He says he arrived in Delhi two years ago with his ‘mama’ (uncle) who lives nearby, in Darya Ganj. He himself has taken up a room on rent in Chawri Bazar that he shares with a few fellow hawkers. “One man sells papaya, one man sells cold water…”

Every morning, Noor Ahmad gets up at 6 and heads to the vegetable mandi where he buys 5 kgs of lemons. He sets up his stall by 9 and returns to his room 12 hours later. At night, he eats out in an eatery. Sometimes Noor Ahmad “think of mummy’s khana, especially her arhar dal and rice”. He doesn’t have a mobile but borrows one from an acquaintance to talk to parents at home, which is 12 hours and a 500-rupee bus ticket away from Delhi.

While discussing his inability to attend school, Noor Ahmad remarks that he is not able to read English. “When I grow up, I will do what I’m doing today,” he says. He now gets up from the stairs and walks back to his cart, which is painted with large Hindi fonts in yellow, saying “Noor Ahmad shikanji wala.”

Enjoy unlimited digital access with HT Premium

Subscribe Now to continue reading
freemium
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • One of the 14 Mughal-era gateways to punctuate the Walled City’s wall, the graceful Ajmeri Gate today is like a queen without her palace.

    Delhiwale: This way to Ajmeri Gate

    This venerable stone gateway originally signposted the way to the aforementioned pilgrim town. One of the 14 Mughal-era gateways to punctuate the Walled City’s wall, the graceful Ajmeri Gate today is like a queen without her palace.

  • Mahesh Choudhary, 45, went missing on April 4, 2007 and the case was registered five days later, after his son, Rakesh Choudhary, then 22, filed a missing complaint. (Representation purpose)

    Delhi: Cop’s hunt for kidnapper ends after a 15-year wait

    Assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Sanjeev Tomar’s quest ended on May 28, when he and members of his team arrested a man named Hari Om for abducting and killing Choudhary. Tomar, 47, now posted with the crime branch, was a constable at the Badarpur police station when the crime took place in 2007.

  • DFS chief Atul Garg said, “The addition of 89 new firefighting vehicles will help us improve our response time across Delhi”. (Photo by Amal KS /Hindustan Times)

    89 new trucks to help DFS speed up rescue operations

    The approval for purchasing 89 new fire trucks was sought against the condemnation of 60 fire trucks, which have diesel engines and have reached their expiry time of 10 years, and have to be taken off service.

  • Delhi minister Satyendar Jain. (ANI FILE)

    ED arrests 2 more in money laundering case against Delhi minister Satyendar Jain

    Vaibhav and Ankush were arrested under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). ED said both are directors of Ram Prakash Jewellers Pvt Ltd, which was raided on June 6. After the searches at premises linked to six people including the jewellery firm’s five directors, ED said it recovered 2.85 crore and 133 gold coins, alleging that the gold was from “unexplained sources” and was “secreted” in the properties.

  • A MCD official said enforcement teams seized 689.01 kg of plastic items and issued 368 challans on Friday.

    Problem of plenty: Ban no bar, Delhi markets struggle to get rid of plastics

    Following the latest notification of the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2022 in February, the central government directed all states and union territories (UTs) to phase out SUPs in a planned manner by July 1, 2022.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, July 03, 2022